• Arbitrators would hear Swiss consumer complaints that companies ran afoul of U.S.-Swiss data transfer obligations • Candidates must demonstrate independence, integrity, expertise

The U.S. and Switzerland are seeking up to five privacy practitioners with European or Swiss data protection expertise to arbitrate Swiss consumer complaints under a U.S.-Swiss data transfer pact.

The pact—U.S.-Swiss Privacy Shield—allows companies and organizations, including Adobe Systems Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., and Reddit Inc., to transfer personal data out of Switzerland to the U.S. without running afoul of Swiss privacy law. It was designed so that U.S. and Swiss companies could follow data protection requirements when transferring personal data out of Switzerland to the U.S. The program is run out of the U.S. Commerce Department and the Swiss government.

Although the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield has a potentially larger impact on international digital commerce, Switzerland’s role in the international banking ecosystem and trade totals with the U.S. makes the program just as vital. Switzerland is the U.S.'s 12th largest trading partner, with U.S. goods and services traded totaling $59.1 billion in 2016, the last year for which data was available, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Under the U.S.-Swiss program, the arbitrators would give Swiss individuals an opportunity to enter into binding arbitration, generally a secretive legal process, to determine if a company has run afoul of obligations under the data transfer pact.

The arbitrators will supplement a list of previously certified EU-U.S. Privacy Shield referees. They hear complaints under that data transfer pact, according to the Commerce Department’s notice (RIN: 0625-XC03).

Individuals that seek to lodge a complaint under the program can force arbitration and receive “individual-specific, non-monetary equitable relief (such as access, correction, deletion, or return of the individual’s data in question) necessary to remedy the violation,” according to the notice. Each determination applies only to the specific matter and not to other companies.

Prospective arbitrators must meet certain criteria based on their “independence, integrity and expertise,” according to the Commerce Department announcement. Arbitrators will serve three-year terms that can be renewed for another three years.

Interested individuals have until April 30 to apply.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel R. Stoller in Washington at dstoller@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Barbara Yuill at byuill@bloomberglaw.com